- Gale Brewer - https://www.manhattanbp.nyc.gov -

Weekly COVID newsletter (10/1)


It’s Thursday, October 1, 2020. Welcome to the weekly edition of my COVID newsletter.

At press time, nonprofit news site TheCity.nyc’s COVID-19 tracker [1] shows Manhattan has 33,626 confirmed cases and 3,181 deaths; New York City as a whole has 244,574 cases and 23,829 deaths. There were 533 new cases citywide yesterday (9/30), compared to last Wednesday’s (9/23) 424 cases, a rise of 26%.

Yesterday the Governor released the state’s 20 highest positive-testing ZIP codes, and Inwood’s 10040 shows a 4% positivity rate– seven cases out of 198 tests. It’s a far cry from the top of the list, the two ZIPs in Rockland County showing 14% and 17% positivity in 550 tests. Inwood is off the top 20 today, but it’s worrisome nonetheless.


Thank you to the 80 volunteers who joined my day of action to welcome families and hand out “COVID kits” for elementary students’ first day of school on Tuesday (9/29)! We distributed 35,000 masks, 9,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and Census information to over 3,000 families.


I handed out “COVID kits” at P.S. 188 the Island School. Right, staff with “COVID kits” at P.S. 84 Lillian Webster.

Now that school has started, it’s crucial for families to sign up for a NYC Schools Account [2] if they haven’t already, which enables schools to alert you to confirmed COVID-19 cases, your child’s grades, test scores, schedules and transportation information.

Last Friday (9/25), a state court decision stopped development of 50 W. 66th St., a 775-foot tall building planned by Extell, in an “Article 78” lawsuit brought by the City Club against the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), which had approved the Dept. of Buildings’ (DOB) building permit. The court declared that “‘mechanical voids,’ meaning space in a building denoted as ‘mechanical’ but without mechanical equipment or a mechanical purpose, or vastly larger than necessary for any mechanical purpose, are illegal.” The court also ruled that “any such spaces must be included in all floor area and height calculations…” and that “split lot” developments such as 50 W. 66th St. must respect the zoning regulations on each respective zoning lot. Extell is likely to appeal the court judgment [3].

There’s another BSA challenge in the works as well. Landmark West [4] argued against the DOB permit before the BSA, too, and on Jan. 28, 2020 the BSA deadlocked in a tie, leaving the Dept. of Buildings certification in place (allowing construction to continue). Now, eight months later, the BSA still hasn’t written up their decision– made six weeks before the shutdown– so Landmark West can’t file an Article 78 challenge in court at all, because there’s technically nothing to challenge, yet.

It’s very curious– a classic catch 22. I’ve written the BSA asking why there’s been no official writeup of their decision. Read my letter here [5].

On Sunday (9/27), I joined Upper West Side elected officials in calling for a reversal of the Mayor’s decision to relocate Project Renewal clients from the Lucerne Hotel [6] to a hotel in the Financial District. Goddard Riverside had already raised private money to provide employment and recreational activities to the men six days a week, and relocating them will deprive them of these support services that can make a real difference in these clients’ lives. It’s a shame to not take advantage of what Goddard has put together.

Months into the pandemic, there are still seniors and homebound adults facing serious delivery and nutritional issues with their GetFoodNYC program meals. This week, I wrote to the Mayor about my concerns. Ready my letter here [7].


In light of the fact that 100,000 Brooklyn voters received absentee ballots with the wrong name on the return address [8] on their ballot reply envelope this week, please double check that it’s YOUR name on that reply envelope. Call 866-VOTE-NYC (be patient, they’re overwhelmed) or email Apply4Absentee@boe.nyc [9].

To recap, there are three ways to vote: Vote absentee, vote early, or vote on Election Day– but VOTE!

Request an absentee ballot [10] by 10/27, and return it by Election Day (11/3) either by mail, to one of the new ballot drop boxes [11] that are now (or will be) at Board of Elections offices (the Manhattan BOE is at 200 Varick St.), early voting sites (when those open 10/24) or Election Day polling sites.

To avoid all absentee ballot snafus, vote early [12], in person, from 10/24 – 11/1. Use findmypollsite.vote.nyc [13] to look up your early voting polling place (or your 11/3 Election Day site– they’re likely two different locations!).

The NYC Small Business Resource Network [14], a public-private partnership, helps small business owners access personalized financial, technological, real estate, legal and marketing assistance. Learn more and sign up here [14].

As budget cuts have reduced the frequency of trash pickups, volunteer efforts have popped up across Manhattan, many featured in this THE CITY article [15]. Help keep the streets clean by joining a clean-up– my staff and I have participated in most of these:

Please email me if you learn of others!

The registration period for the CARES Act’s “Economic Impact Payments” of $1,200 ($2,400 for couples, and $500 for each child) closes 10/15 for these categories of taxpayers, who do not normally file returns: Social Security retirement, survivor, disability or Railroad Retirement beneficiaries, or Supplemental Security Income or Veterans Affairs benefit recipients who have qualifying children and did not file a return in 2018 or 2019 OR otherwise did not supply information via the nonfilers tool [27] on the IRS website.

Those who didn’t receive payments or who don’t submit the information by 10/15, may claim the $1,200 as a tax credit next year on the 2020 federal income tax return.

A federal appeals court rejected an appeal by the Trump Administration, leaving in place a restraining order by Judge Lucy Koh, which requires the Census to keep counting until Oct. 31. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross tweeted Monday (9/28) that the Census Bureau would wrap up Oct. 5, which violates the judge’s order– and she is now being asked by the plaintiffs in the National Urban League-led lawsuit over the shortened Census schedule to penalize the administration for allegedly violating her order. Judge Koh has said she would consider a contempt request.

Meanwhile, the administration has added its fourth political appointee in three months [28] to the Census Bureau, further compromising the trusted career staff at the bureau, just as the count wraps up.

There are other federal court cases addressing the President’s order to not include immigrants in the Census’ redistricting numbers given to states. Those cases will likely be heard by the Supreme Court in November or December.

New York Counts 2020 is conducting a briefing on the various court cases tomorrow (10/2) at 10 am, with Jeff Wice of New York Counts 2020, Hillary Medina-Loveless of the Leadership Conference Education Fund/Census Counts and Meeta Anand of the New York Immigration Coalition. Register for the Zoom here [29].


Tonight (10/1) at 7 pm, I’m joining the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan for “New York and the 2020 Election [30]” to discuss the presidential election and how to be engaged in the voting process. Click the title to register.

Save the date for a Manhattan Design Review Workshop of Borough-Based Jails on 10/14, 6:30 – 8:30 pm. I’ll share participation information once it’s available. (Again, a state judge has blocked construction of a new Manhattan jail [31].)

I spoke about Manhattan’s future, small businesses, homelessness and housing yesterday (9/30) with Ben Max from Gotham Gazette on WBAI. You can listen as a podcast here [32].

Community Food Advocates has a map and list [33] of Grab and Go free meal locations, including hours and where Halal and Kosher options are served.

The Shed reopens 10/16 with artist Howardena Pindell’s video exhibition “Rope/Fire/Water [34].” Reserve free timed-entry tickets here [34].

Submit a costume photo by 10/16 for this year’s virtual Children’s Halloween Parade [35] hosted by NYU and Community Board 2 (covering Greenwich Village, Little Italy, SoHo, NoHo, Hudson Square, Chinatown and the Gansevoort Market). This year’s theme is storybook characters, but you can email a photo of any costume to community.engagement@nyu.edu [36].

The virtual parade is 10/31 at 1 pm and will feature a magician, musical performance and costume contest. Register here [37].

Apply to become a member of the NYC Community Emergency Response Team [38], which assists first responders with community preparedness and disaster support. Apply here [39].

The Manhattan Social Security Card Center remains closed for walk-in visits, so call 866-657-3406 to apply for an original or a replacement Social Security card. For all other Social Security services, visit ssa.gov/onlineservices/ [40].

The three U.S. credit reporting agencies offer free weekly credit reports [41]. As missed payments, mortgage forbearance and rent negotiations pile on, it’s important to check that creditors are maintaining their side of the bargain.

Businesses that received $0-$50,000 in Paycheck Protection Program assistance may apply for low-interest loans through the New York Forward Loan Fund [42]. Apply here [43].

Congratulations to the national Black, Latinx, Asian and Indigenous arts organizations that received $1+ million grants from the “America’s Cultural Treasures [44]” initiative, funded by 16 major donors and foundations. The NYC grantees are: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Apollo Theater, Ballet Hispánico, Dance Theatre of Harlem, El Museo del Barrio, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Museum of Chinese in America, Studio Museum in Harlem and Urban Bush Women. Another round of regional grantees will be announced in 2021.

Women Creating Change [45] is hiring a workshop facilitator consultant for its upcoming Civic Engagement Series. View the position description here [46].



Tonight (10/1) at 6 pm, I’m offering a final training with the NYC Commission on Human Rights, “Human Rights Law and Protections Against Discrimination Based on Race and Color [47].” Click the title to register.

Tonight (10/1) at 6:30 pm, NYU Langone Health and Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement hold a virtual town hall about COVID-19 vaccine trials [48]. Click the link to register.

Tonight (10/1) at 7:30 pm, the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance continues its Thursdays with NoMAA [49] series with Dance Theatre of Harlem. Watch on Zoom [50] or Facebook [51].

Tomorrow (10/2) at 8:45 am, New York University College of Dentistry hosts a virtual symposium, “Achieving Health Equity through Access for All with Disabilities [52].” Click the title to register.

Tomorrow (10/2) through 10/18, Shorewalkers NYC’s Great Saunter [53] goes virtual– walk 32 miles anywhere, anytime during the 16-day window. This replaces the annual Shorewalkers NYC in-person daylong hike exploring Manhattan’s 32-mile shoreline. Register here [54].

Tomorrow (10/2) from 10 am – noon and 2 – 5 pm, Union Settlement hosts “Voter Education Day [55],” with information about registering to vote, early and absentee voting and becoming a poll worker. Stop by Union Settlement Garden (203 E. 104th St.) .

Tomorrow (10/2) at 8 pm, Columbia University School of the Arts hosts a podcast release and listening party [56] for “Rarámuri Dreams,” written by Mexican playwright Camila Villegas. Register here [57].

Saturday (10/3) all day, the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District hosts “Welcome Back Saturdays [58],” featuring the shops on Madison Ave. between E. 76th – 86th Sts.

Saturday (10/3) at 1:30 pm, New York Urban League Young Professionals host “Our Voices Matter: Celebrate Harlem! [59],” featuring live performances, voter registration and Census outreach. Click the title to register and receive the secret pop-up location in Harlem.

Sunday (10/4) at 2 pm, South Street Seaport Museum’s monthly sea-music singalong series, “Sea Chanteys and Maritime Music [60],” continues virtually. Register here [61].

Sunday (10/4) at 4 pm, Collectives for Art Music & Dance hosts “Merengue: Evolution of its rhythms and dances [62],” a virtual discussion accompanied by demonstrations. Click the title to register.

Tuesday (10/6) at 1 pm, the American Folk Art Museum’s Reflections Music Series hosts a Zoom concert for adults living with memory loss [63], playing Spanish songs. To register, contact egronke@folkartmuseum.org [64] or 212-265-0605.

Tuesday (10/6) at 3:30 pm, small business owners are invited by Pace University’s Small Business Development Center [65] to a webinar titled “Small Business Leases and Evictions: What is legal; what is reasonable? [66].” Click the title to register.

Tuesday (10/6) at 6 pm, the New Amsterdam History Center hosts “New York is a Dutch City [67],” moderated by Manhattan Borough Historian Rob Snyder. Click the title to register.

Tuesday (10/6) and Wednesday (10/7) at 6 pm, New York Housing Conference hosts a panel and interactive discussion about how the next mayor can increase access to quality housing. Tuesday’s [68] event is in Spanish; Wednesday’s [69] is in English.

Tuesday (10/6) at 7 pm, the Tenement Museum hosts a virtual book talk [70] with Julia Rose Kraut, author of “Threat of Dissent: A History of Ideological Exclusion and Deportation in the United States.” Watch on YouTube [71].

Next Thursday (10/8) at 7 pm, the Tenement Museum hosts “Contraceptives and Controversies [72],” a discussion about birth control from the 1870s – 1930s. Watch on YouTube [73].

Wednesday (10/7) at 9 am, I’m joining the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and all Manhattan Borough President candidates for a virtual forum about the 2021 race [74]. Register here [75].

Wednesday (10/7) from 9 am – 12:30 pm, accounting firm Marks Paneth hosts its 5th Annual Nonprofit Industry Update Seminar [76], featuring updates about nonprofit accounting, regulatory compliance and fundraising technology. Click the title to register.

Wednesday (10/7) at 7 pm, the Andrew Goodman Foundation hosts a panel about the film “Let the People Decide,” which documents the struggle for voting rights since the 1960s. Register here [77] for the free link in order to watch the film on your own before the 10/7 Zoom panel.

Next Thursday (10/8) through 10/18, Workers Unite Film Festival [78] screens films virtually.

Next Thursday (10/8) at 9:30 am, Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York continues its Racial Equity Advancement Labs Equity Events [79] with “R.E.A.L. Talk – Housing Equity and Racial Justice [80].” Click the title to register.

Next Thursday (10/8) at 6 pm, the National Association of Social Worker NYC Chapter hosts its 13th Annual Leadership Awards Gala [81]. Join me, Carla D. Brown and Marricka Scott-McFadden for a virtual fireside chat [82].

Stay Safe